A teacher in his early twenties, Adam Baily, was eating French fries one day when he noticed that one of the middle school students was distracted by his Wendy's bag.
"You want some?" asked Baily.
The student enthusiastically accepted the offer and revealed that he'd never been to Wendy’s or any other restaurant for that matter. So during a subsequent basketball tournament trip, Bailey offered to pay for the boy's meal at a nice restaurant so that he could afford to eat with his teammates. Unfortunately, the young man neglected to look at the menu prices and to Bailey's surprise ordered $200 worth of steak, lobster, and side dishes.
Here’s another true teacher narrative.
Katie Riley is a teacher in her early twenties who almost broke her toe opening her classroom door for a student last week. Her pain was spectacular, but nothing compared to the hurt from a couple of weeks earlier when a tenth-grade student stole Riley's phone. When the Android device finally turned up, it was destroyed beyond repair.
"If it had been stolen by strangers," Riley lamented, "that would've been much easier to take than being targeted by an individual I work hard to help every day."
Stories like these occur all the time in our 129,400 U.S. schools: hopeful, funny, poignant moments that feature big-hearted, unforgettable teachers who extend themselves without expectation of recompense.
Let's show them how much we care by pooling our coins and going beyond the all-too-frequent unimaginative gifts: "I [Heart] Teacher" mugs with a packet of hot cocoa; or bumper stickers for educators with slogans like, "It's all fun and games until someone divides by zero" and "Oh snap, it's onomatopoeia." Let's lean toward more thoughtful gifts. I’m talking themes! The following list includes ideas for every budget.
Help your beloved teachers vibe out on a virtual trip to Hawai'i with these relaxation-inducing gifts:
- Order Leonard's Bakery malasadas, a Portuguese doughnut without a hole that resembles a fluffy, sugared manatee. Leonard's has been making malasadas in Oahu since 1952. After a rough day, teachers will embrace these cinnamon-sugar, chocolate, haupia (coconut), and custard beauties. To be clear, do not buy poi; buy malasadas. ($24.00)
- Buy music from Hawai’i native Robi Kahakalau. ($12.99)
- Crazy Shirts' crater-dyed long sleeve t-shirt smells like a volcano! I own four. ($39)
- For ocean lovers, purchase the Hawai'i sea turtle lamp. ($79.99)
- Send them homemade guava jelly. (Price varies.)
- Kona Reserve coffee is mandatory. ($29.95)
Deconstructed Apple Gifts
Ever since frontier families fed and housed teachers, the red apple has been (arguably) over-used as a symbol for teaching. But let’s add new polish to that old theme.
- Watch faculty lounges destroy Rumbly Tumbly's Apple Fritter Bread.
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider is keeping alive the go-to drink of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses and Roman emperor Julius Caesar. (6-pack for $10.28)
- Mrs. Meyer's Apple Hand Soap softens and cleans busy hands. ($3.99)
- Pair yummy apples with Dean & Deluca's Ultimate U.S. Cheese Plate, featuring a two-year Cheddar Bar and Sartori Raspberry Bellavitano. ($90.00)
- Ginette Callaway's enchanting and spectacular "Apples and Bees Oil Painting" would enhance any living room. ($240)
- And from the Caramel Apple Bonanza by Wine and Country Gift Baskets, maybe your teacher will enjoy a large Granny Smith enveloped in "buttery caramel and hand-dipped milk chocolate." I had to look away. ($39.95)
Support Education Bloggers
What are win-win presents? Buying education bloggers' books and swag spreads knowledge and supports their work. Here are just a few:
- Teaching Students to Self-Assess: How do I help students reflect and grow as learners? by National Board Certified Teacher Starr Sackstein explains how to use student reflections and assessment to help kids develop targeted learning plans. ($6.99-$12.99)
- Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School, by Mark Barnes of Brilliant or Insane and Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy, describes many solutions for things like helping reluctant readers and securing more time for teachers to plan. ($9.97 - $17.51)
- Wayne D. Lewis blogs regularly at the Education Policy Matters Blog and The Black EduBlog. His book The Politics of Parent Choice in Public Education tells the story of the modern school choice movement in the U.S. ($61.78)
- When she's not writing posts for Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, elementary teacher Pernille Ripp creates cute swag with slogans. ($16.99)
- Inspirational education blogger Angela Maiers also wrote the The Passion-Driven Classroom with co-author Amy Sandvold. ($34.95)
- Kelley Dawson Salas teaches third grade at the Milwaukee Spanish Immersion School and contributes to the Rethinking Schools Blog. Kelley co-edited The New Teacher Book. ($13.95-$28.90)
- Math educator and blogger Rafranz Davis serves on the steering committee of EduColor. Her book is The Missing Voices in EdTech: Bringing Diversity into EdTech. ($11.95)
Here are some cool high-tech products for early adopters:
- The 4-inch-tall Damson Twist Speaker turns any surface into a speaker, even the box it arrived in. ($74.00)
- Heavy and hot lies the thinking head. Fortunately Dreamfinity's Cooling Gel and Memory Foam Pillow employs a layer of gel micro bubbles to feel 15 degrees cooler than other traditional pillows. ($50.00)
- Hallway patrol goes high tech! The Monorover R2 personal transportation device is like a Segway without the handlebars, employing similar gyroscopic technology. Point your toes down to go forward, heels down to go backwards. It travels 10-12 miles per charge. ($599.00)
For the Birds
Finally, here's a gift so supremely absurd that I had to include it. Falconry accessories from Neiman Marcus includes, among other items, a Dutch hood made of rattlesnake with designer ostrich eye panels and a blue sapphire bead. If you have to ask for the price, maybe you don’t take your teacher's falconry habit seriously enough. ($150,000)
What gifts do you recommend?